May 3rd, 2007

gaijin face

Korea, the fast way

so, here's my long overdue post on my trip with Robin to Korea. it's the fast way both because our trip was fast and because i'm making a quick, bullet-point style entry on it.

  • first, when going to Korea for just a weekend (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday til around 4pm), one should make sure you're not still exhausted from previous travels (Thailand for me, the Philippines for Robin).

  • second, you should really go for more than just a weekend. we didn't really have much chance to get out of Seoul, and we felt like there were probably better things out there besides the city. it really just felt like a dirtier, ruder version of a Japanese city. besides all the Korean writing and language and money and food, of course.

  • when thinking how poorly the yen is doing, it would be good to remind myself how weak the Korean won is. it's about 120 yen to the dollar, and it's about 7 won to the yen. ouch

  • the food was a definite highlight of the trip. i ate enough kimchi to last me a while, and one night we went to a tofu restaurant we later found out is one of the best in Seoul. that meal was practically worth the trip by itself. i may not have learned much Korean, but i did learn the proper table manners for traditional Korean dishes, so i felt like it was an educational experience. and unlike Japan, they have Dunkin' Donuts. oh yeah.

  • cherry blossom season is equally lovely in Korea, and we enjoyed them at Seoul Tower, the Grand Palace, and pretty much everywhere else.

  • naturally, the most interesting part was our tour on Sunday of the DMZ. we don't have many pictures of this part of the trip because, well, people with guns would shoot you if you took pictures. we saw the MDL (military demarkation line, aka, the border) with the flags of North and South Korea looking like something out of Lord of the Rings (they were on huge tower/flag poles, the South's being white with a lighter flag and the Northern one being taller, with a black tower and a darker flag). we also went down the 3rd Tunnel, one of the tunnels the North Koreans dug under the DMZ and that the South found in the 1970's. Things like the peace bridge and the station where the railways of North and South are being connected though reminded me that Korea is coming closer to unifying. I do still hope to see a united Korea in my lifetime. I bought a very cute Joint Security Area t-shirt in the hopes one day it will be the reminder of a time gone by where they needed the JSA. i'll give it this though, the DMZ is the most peaceful warzone in the world.

  • i'm too lazy to upload the few pictures i took before my camera died, but you can see the ones Robin took with her better camera here. i look fat and tired in most of them because that's what i was.

feel free to ask me any questions about Korea or the pictures if you have any curiosities, but that's the basics of our trip. next post (when i get around to it) will be about Kelly and my jaunt to Kyoto in kimono. i will try and at least get that up before my sister and mom arrive for a week-long visit on Saturday. until then, hope you're all well and happy with spring in full swing!